The news today is full of Pres. Bush’s push for federal funding of religious charities known as the faith based initiatives. One nutshell financial argument in favor of this says that funding of charitable causes through religious organizations is more effective and more efficient than direct administration by the federal government. It is difficult to argue that any administration could be less efficient than that of the federal government but funding at the state and local levels and through secular organizations would certainly be an option. Financial and efficiency issues aside, I find myself firmly opposed to the faith based initiatives and is my reasoning:
A strict constitutional interpretation of the separation of church and state would indicate that these initiatives are in violation. Such a strict interpretation reinforces the secular foundation of the nation and inhibits favoring of any religion, or no religion. As an aside, many organizations, some of which included the religious, are opposing the initiatives on constitutional grounds. One such group is Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, which I support philosophically and financially. This group recognizes the danger to the churches and the individual alike from a coalition of government and religion.
Individual Christian religions have a master agenda which is commonly known as evangelism, meaning the effort to convert others to their persuasion. It may not be realistic to think that they could put this agenda aside to administer these initiatives fairly and free from the influence of faith. It may be unlikely that these groups intend to make any such effort. It seems apparent that religious groups, especially the religious right, are influencing the Bush administration and are chomping at the bit to get their hands on the funds. Social issues (my opinion) such as abortion, birth control, homosexual rights, divorce and perhaps even race and religion are likely to taint the fair administration and distribution of funds. Proceeding with the faith based initiatives may cement a new coalition between religion and government to the public detriment which may never be corrected.
Comments and discussion invited.